My name is Zhakier Adams. I am 21 years old, and a childhood cancer survivor from Manenberg, Cape Town. I was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of 13.
I remember 2010 just after the World Cup. I attended a holiday programme that was held in the community, and when the school holidays were over I went back to school, and I had no pain during the school holidays.
At the time I was in primary school and I attended the Primrose Park Primary School. The school had a garden and each class had to work in the garden to plant seeds and water the garden.
I was in the school garden when I first lost balance and couldn’t walk or stand. I didn’t pay much attention. But this occurred continuously for a few days. Then it eventually got to the point where I couldn’t stand or walk at all.
At the same time, my mother fell ill as well. My parents decided that both of us should go to the nearest doctor. The doctor examined me and he picked up all the symptoms of cancer. The doctor gave a letter to Jooste Hospital for blood tests. That evening, the doctor at Jooste Hospital called my father, informing him to take me to Red Cross Hospital immediately.
I wasn’t told exactly what was wrong, but I was admitted to the hospital and while waiting for a doctor to attend to me, I passed out and woke up in the ICU. I woke up and saw my mother crying and still didn’t know what was wrong with me. But my parents knew. Thereafter, I was in and out of the hospital for months. I went through all kinds of treatments; radiation therapy, chemotherapy, x-rays and blood transfusion for 3 long years.
It was during this time that my family and I met CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation. I did not stay at a CHOC House because I lived near to the hospital, but CHOC supported my family emotionally, we received care bags, and all the support that they offer to families and kids in the wards at Red Cross Hospital.
I struggled with my schooling, but eventually made it to go to high school. I missed out on so much school time, I failed twice, one of the reasons was, in grade 10, I experienced severe back pain and ended up back in hospital for weeks. Eventually I wrote matric in 2017. I could not write all my subjects, and I still need to write another 3 subjects to obtain my matric certificate.
During the time I was on treatment, I attended camps with other kids that also had cancer. The camp was called Just Footprints, and I am now a facilitator at the Just Footprints camp.
I have been in remission for 4 and half years now, and I am first of all very grateful to the Almighty, my parents and family, and to CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation for supporting me through my journey. I am part of the CHOC survivor/volunteer family and I jump at every opportunity to get involved to support CHOC.
Thank you for having me and sharing my journey.